This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Sunday 31st January
Yesssss! Palace eased past Stoke City and into the 5th Round of the FA Cup thanks to a first half Wilfried Zaha goal. My friends Richard Thompson and Belinda Bullick had come along to the game, and we stayed at our new matchday hostelry, The Albert Tavern in South Norwood, celebrating a fine win and raising a glass to Lemmy till they threw us out. Over the course of five crazy hours we drank our way through the entire cocktail menu and drained the place of cranberry juice. There was a rather convoluted tram and train journey home, and I ended up falling asleep in front of telly (yet again). But here I am, propped up at the PC and nose to the grindstone at the unearthly hour of 8am(-ish). I think you'll find that's called professionalism with a capital 'P'.
I've just transcribed a little interview-ette I did a few days ago with Motörhead's Phil Campbell. He *really* liked Classic Rock's tribute to Lemmy: "It's essential reading, I went through it other day whilst sitting on the bog." Phil says he still finds himself breaking down unexpectedly over the loss of his band-mate but sounded in fairly good spirits, circumstances considered. Full details of the new issue can be seen here.
Saturday 30th January
An interview, 2 x album reviews, park run and now a lovely hot shower before heading off to Selhurst for a few dry sherries... and it's still only 11.30am. Now that's what I call a productive morning.
Friday 29th January
As seems the norm of late, there's bad news and a small sprinkling of good. Yet another great loss to rock music, Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane/Starship has died. The 74-year-old had been battling poor health for a while but succumbed to multiple organ failure and septic shock after suffering a heart attack. I spoke to him a couple of times by phone for Classic Rock in recent years; it was a little daunting to deal with somebody so intense but he was such a fascinating guy. And on the plus side... the mighty FM will be supporting Heart on this summer's UK dates, including the Royal Albert Hall in London. Can't wait for that!!!! Heart were merely so-so when I last saw them, at Hammersmith back in 2004, but I will approach their upcoming set with an open mind as the Dominion Theatre show I witnessed back in '82 (with Brian May and Randy California appearing on the encores) is among my all-time classic gigs.
As the week drew to a close I was really quite excited to do a Skype interview Udo Dirkschneider. He says his upcoming UK tour (with Anvil in support) will be a two-hour show comprised *only* of Accept tunes... nothing after 1986's 'Russian Roulette'. I shall be having a bit of that, guv'nor, and no mistake.
Awesome! As I type I'm about to settle down for the night and watch Dee f**king Snider on The Celebrity Apprentice USA. Tia Carrera is on it, too - she was once a future Mrs Ling but sadly for her, she missed her chance. Also George Takei, the rest I barely know. I had missed episode #1 but it's still on the BBC's iPlayer. (No spoilers from you Yanks pls!)
Thursday 28th January
Three major rock acts played London last night – including Thunder's 'secret' charideee gig at the 100 Club and the return of Steven Wilson to Hammersmith. It's a bit embarrassing to admit I hadn't seen The Temperance Movement since the Steelhouse Festival in the summer of 2013, where they played one of the sets of the weekend despite performing in the pissing rain (I was forced to wear my now-infamous 'smurf' cagoule), so I felt I should totter over to the Forum to put right that situation.
Due to pressure of work and travel delays I only saw the last three songs by support act the Sheepdogs, which was a bit of a calamity as the Canadian group's Creedence-meets-Allmans retro vibe was right up my street. I shall be chasing down a copy of their latest (and fifth) album, 'Future Nostalgia', later today.
It was so good to see The Temperance Movement again. I've yet to hear their recently issued second album, 'White Bear', so a big chunk of the 100-minute set was unfamiliar but it really didn't matter. How nice that they opened with 'Ziggy Stardust', too. I could scarcely understand a word that came of out Phil Campbell's mouth except for an exclamation of "fuckin' London, ferrrfucksake! Come on!" Likewise the Glaswegian's 'moves' resemble a cheerleader who's suffering from a nasty mix of St Vitus Dance and an Epileptic fit. But Christ on a bike, what a phenomenal set of blues-drenched pipes!
Looking at the 19-tune set-list (below), the show was weighted fairly heavily in favour of 'White Bear' – well, more than half of it was new – but from a personal viewpoint, so long as they played 'Smouldering', which they did, complete with some super-delicious slide guitar, there were no complaints from yours truly, and a three-song encore which included a serene and highly distinguished pair of new 'uns, 'I Hope I'm Not Losing My Mind' and 'A Pleasant Peace I Feel', was well deserved.
Here's that song-list: 'Ziggy Stardust', 'Three Bulleitss', 'Oh Lorraine', 'Midnight Black', 'Be Lucky, 'Modern Massacre', 'Magnify', Pride, 'Ain't No Telling', 'The Sun & The Moon Roll Around Too Soon', 'Smouldering', 'White Bear', 'Get Yourself Free', 'Only Friend', 'Take It Back' and 'Battle Lines', plus 'I Hope I'm Not Losing My Mind', 'A Pleasant Peace I Feel' and 'Lovers And Fighters'.
Wednesday 27th January
I was among a gathering of writers invited to central London's rather plush May Fair Hotel for last night's press screening of Jon Brewer's new film on Guns N' Roses, The Most Dangerous Band In The World, which is to be shown next week on BBC4. Obviously, since its completion the band – well, Axl, Slash and Duff, plus a support cast that's TBC – has confirmed a reunion, so Brewer opts to leave its conclusion open-ended.
Brewer, whose previous biopics include BB King, Nat King Cole and Jimi Hendrix, briefly addressed the gathering, admitting that the project had begun life as Slash – The Movie, until its subject demanded a rebrand. "It's a coincidence that GNR are talking to one another [just as I release my documentary]," he informed the crowd, "but it's the right time for them to do it."
And then just before the lights dimmed, he added: "This film found the secret of why Axl doesn't talk to Slash, and vice versa – it's in the movie." It was quite a claim, and one that whetted the appetites of all those in the room.
Big build-up aside, TMDBITW left me underwhelmed. An opening Alice In Wonderland pastiche, in which Alice tumbles into a trash can to emerge in the Rainbow Bar & Grill, was too ludicrous for words. Neither Axl or McKagan were interviewed for the movie, though use of archive footage is abundant, along with music filmed by Slash's childhood friend Mark Canter during the band's days as Sunset Strip minnows.
So I sat awaiting the pièce de résistance, and finally it arrived. According to Tom Zutaut, the Geffen Records talent scout who discovered and signed GN'R during the '80s, Rose became convinced that a crow took over Slash's body, replacing his soul, when the guitarist died for eight minutes following a drug overdose. As David Icke-esque as that must sound, it was offered as a genuine explanation for the feud.
I had to find out more. A few peeps from the media were invited to remain behind for a Q&A session. We learned very quickly that Axl hasn't seen the movie. The furthest the filmmaker had got to contact was a request via the singer's lawyers. "No one speaks to Axl," he told us firmly.
Brewer conducted himself with considerable authority for a man who hadn't got past Rose's lawyers, informing the assembled throng that so far as he knew, the reunion's two main protagonists hadn't even had a direct conversation, negotiations taking place instead through their legal teams. "I do know that rehearsals started 10 days ago but nobody except the band turned up," he commented.
So I raised my hand to ask whether we were supposed to swallow that ridiculous theory about the crow. "I seriously believe it to be true," Brewer insisted with a perfectly straight face. "The real problem was that Slash didn't know [anything of Rose's theory]. But yes… Axl thought that Slash was an evil spirit; whether that's madness or insanity, it's why he stopped talking to him."
The GN'R reunion – nobody ever said it was going to be dull.
Tuesday 26th January
It's been a day of Jimmy Bain-related interviews and, lightening the mood somewhat, some re-assessment of Iron Maiden's fabled Paul Di'Anno era. Paul only recorded two albums with the band, of course, but I've been encouraged to "throw in a few wild cards" for a Best Of Everything-style story at the TeamRock website and there's also a wealth of B-sides and live versions to consider. It's been fun to sift through these treasured vinyl gems but picking my Top Ten selections is proving very tough indeed…
Oh no-o-o-o-o-o-o! So it's true. Emmanuel Adebayor has joined Palace until the end of the current season. Hmmmm, I will give him a fair chance, I guess, but despite the pedigree of the Togo international I'm hardly brimming with confidence that it'll work out.
Monday 25th January
Last night Threshold played their latest (and tenth) studio album 'For The Journey' in its entirety, plus a sprinkling of catalogue gems, at the Islington Academy. Only one word will do – triumphant.
I was reviewing the show for Prog magazine and the live reviews editor, Malcolm Dome, had requested a few words on Spheric Universe Experience, an opening act from the South of France. For a five-piece they made an almost impossibly huge sound, and despite having arrived as unknowns to most of those attendance their 40 minutes of chunky, colourful prog-metal were rewarded by something of an ovation. Support groups are not usually this good.
Threshold were back at Islington for the second time in 14 months at the end of a long jaunt to mainland Europe. "This is London! Good people, we're home! It's really, really great to be here," roared Damian Wilson, a gregarious frontman who seemed most content out among the audience, from where he once again delivered the epic 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams' – unless he was climbing, Spiderman-like, into the balcony, that is. The musicianship was simply jaw-dropping, enhanced by a front-of-house sound-mix that was reassuringly loud and clear as a bell. Threshold's status here in the UK is slowly but steadily escalating, and last night's display proved that they can live on a stage with just about any band that the progressive-metal genre has to offer – bar none.
The set-list ram as follows: 'Freaks', 'Mission Profile', 'Watchtower On The Moon', 'Unforgiven', 'The Box', 'Turned To Dust', 'Lost In Your Memory', 'Autumn Red', 'The Mystery Show', 'Siren Sky', 'Oceanbound', 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams' and 'Ashes', plus an encore of 'The Art Of Reason' and 'Slipstream'.
Taken from the Classic Rock website here's my little tribute to Jimmy Bain, a guy that the casual rock fan might perhaps have dismissed as your average metal dude. In fact, as proven by those associations with Kate Bush, Roy Harper and Philip Lynott, there was so much more to him than that.
Sunday 24th January
First things first… the result from yesterday's game at Selhurst Park – Palace 1, Spurs 3. Dele Alli netted possibly the goal of the season during the game's latter stages, but the Eagles were already well beaten… again, despite having taken the lead against the run of play through a Jan Vertonghen own goal. That's six league fixtures without a victory and considering the list of injuries and suspensions it's getting hard to envisage a turnaround anytime soon.
More upsettingly still, ex-Rainbow, Wild Horses and Dio bass player Jimmy Bain has died whilst on board Def Leppard's Hysteria On The High Seas cruise where his current group Last In Line were due to perform. The LA-based Scotsman was 68 years old and was suffering from pneumonia. Bain and I had spoken just before Christmas for Classic Rock's tribute to Phil Lynott and he told me of "a very poignant discussion" the pair had in the pub over the period of Christmas 1985. "At the time, we were still in our thirties and neither of us could quite believe that we were still doing rock 'n' roll. When you start out you kind of assume that it'll all end in your twenties. So we had this long conversation about how fortunate we were, and how the two of us were still working on our musicianship – trying to get better. And then just a week or two later he was gone." RIP, Jimmy.
Okay.... *takes a deep breath and attempts to compose himself*... here are few words of praise for last night's gig from Fist. Where on earth did those 36 years go since I saw 'em at the Marquee??!! A fair chunk of the band's 65-minute set was culled from 'Turn The Hell On', a debut released via Neat Records that I'd not listened to for decades but had loved back in the day. Consequently, it felt as though I was greeting old friends with the likes of 'The Vamp', 'You'll Never Get Me Up In One Of Those' and especially 'Forever Amber'. Becoming reacquainted again with 'Too Hot', 'Turn The Hell On', 'Devil Rise' and the super-heavy 'Dog Soldier' has also caused me to dig out its successor 'Back With A Vengeance' from 1982 this morning, but it was the final run-in of '…Get Me Up…', 'Name, Rank And Serial Number' and an encore cover of Motörhead's 'Ace Of Spades' that really tore off the roof.
Mr Beare and I decided to hang around for a few additional beers as the Unicorn turned into a hard rock disco. Cue much headbanging, swigging and falling over into puddles of cider. Among my final memories of the night was being on the dancefloor and rocking out to 'A Light In The Black', a track from Rainbow's immortal album, 'Rising', that of course featured the prolific talents of a certain James Stewart Bain.
Saturday 23rd January
I'm off to a pub in Camden called the Unicorn - a new venue for me! - following this afternoon's Palace-Spurz game. The mighty Fist, best known for their classic single 'Name, Rank And Serial Number', are back in town. Last time I saw the NWOBHM Geordies was at the old Marquee Club in Wardour Street as they supported a l'il band by the name of Iron Maiden. Entry cost a quid! Hehehe, this is gonna be fun! Shame it clashes with Davy O'List's comeback show at the Borderline as the former guitarist of The Nice made a great record in 'Second Thoughts', but there's not much I can do about that.
Friday 22nd January
Oh my... Eddie has just called me into the house from my office for this and it's very hard to watch - a public intervention on my boyhood hero, the former Palace and England legend Kenny Sansom on, of all things, The Jeremy Kyle Show, AKA Chav Central. During the 1970s, before succumbing to the Dark Side and singing for the A***nal, Sansom represented his national side against Wales whilst playing for a club in the third tier of English football... think about that for a moment. Yeah, he was *that* good. I knew he had problems and had lived rough for a while, but... Get in the friggin' car and take y'self off to rehab, Kenny! Please...
[Edit: The show was obviously filmed a while ago and its ending offers hope. Three months sober. That's great. Well done, Kenny].
Thursday 21st January
I'm a big fan of Lynne Jackaman, formerly the frontwoman of the British retro-rockers Saint Jude. Lynne's latest band, which features Guy Griffin of the Quireboys on guitar, is simply called Jackaman and last night they played a sold-out gig at the Borderline. The new format allows her to stretch out and do something a little different. Since I last saw her at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen six months back, it's becoming a wee bit too soul-orientated for my own personal taste, if I'm completely honest, but from conversations we've had in the past I know that's where Lynne wants take her music in the long run. The direction in which she's headed certainly suits her voice, which is drop-dead fantastic as ever. I loved the final song of her set proper, 'Bringing It Back Home', which stomps along superbly and concludes with an amazing, banshee-esque solo segment. Preceded by a moving speech about Lemmy, Bowie, Glenn Frey, Buffin and the other departed souls of the last few weeks, and winding up with a couple of lines from 'Life On Mars?' ("It's a god awful small affair/To the girl with the mousy hair"), the encore, 'My Beautiful Loss', took things in an opposing yet equally memorable direction, though at a little over an hour the show was just too short. The debut album, when it comes, will be worth a listen though in my heart of hearts I really wish she'd go back to rocking out a little more.
Wednesday 20th January
Last night was spent at the Jazz Café in Camden where Mollie Marriott, daughter of the late, great Steve of Humble Pie fame, was appearing at a 'new talent' evening organised by Time Out magazine. I had fallen in love with Mollie's album, 'Truth Is A Wolf', a few months ago but this was my first sighting of her onstage. Unsurprisingly, her voice is strong and powerful and, having started out early in the biz, she has a comfortable, easy-going and likable stage presence. With a five-piece backing band and wearing a floaty black outfit there was something of Stevie Nicks about her, especially when she sang 'Broken', a Fleetwood Mac-esque tribute to her daughter. Sadly, being a showcase gig (three other acts were scheduled to play), Marriott's set was limited to six tracks in half an hour though I was extremely impressed by what I saw, especially 'King Of Hearts', one of three songs on the record co-penned with Judie Tzuke, and 'Ship Of Fools', a sprightly cover of a tune recorded by World Party that really allowed Mollie to rip. I shall deffo be seeing her again.
Tuesday 19th January
I awoke and switched on the clock radio as usual. I like to take my time getting out of bed and have recently switched from The Today Show on Radio 4 to Five Live with Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden because the focus is more on sport and music – and both presenters seem like immensely likable people. When I heard them playing a song by The Eagles, my first thought was… 'please, God… no. Not another rock star fatality'. Sadly, my first fears were confirmed. Glenn Frey, author of hit songs as 'Hotel California' and 'Tequila Sunrise', had died from a combination of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia. The 67-year-old co-wrote and sang most of the Eagles hits, including 'Take It Easy', 'Lyin' Eye's and 'Heartache Tonight'... in other words a monster of a talent.
As I lay there trying to absorb the shock, Don Henley's tribute made me weep a little: 'He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken. We built something that has lasted longer than anyone could have dreamed. But Glenn was the one who started it all. It will be very strange going forward in a world without him in it. But I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life. Rest in peace, my brother. You did what you set out to do, and then some.." You can say that again.
The first time I saw the band and apart from the intimate thing they did at the IndigO2 in 2007, probably the best of their shows that I witnessed. It was a real bucket list moment for me. I bought I ticket from a tout (something I would never usually do). I blubbed a bit during 'Desperado' but chuckled when the crowd tempted them back out for an encore with a cry of "Eeeeeeeee-gullllllssssss!", CPFC-stye.
What a very sad day.
Monday 18th January
You know what? I'm getting heartily sick of this. RIP, Buffin of Mott The Hoople. Born Dale Griffin - the nickname of Buffin came from an obscure spoonerism gag coined by childhood friend and eventual Mott bassist Peter 'Overend' Watts – the 67-year-old died in his sleep following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's Disease.
On a happier note, I just got off the phone with Dee Snider. I love interviewing Twisted Sister's Mr Rent-A-Quote, who during out conversation said: "With the benefit of hindsight I know now that had Twisted Sister continued [after the 'Love Is For Suckers' album] I would have been on a trajectory of Axl Rose-level asshole-ness." That's just superb on so many levels!
Sunday 17th January
Oh, for fuck's sake... yesterday produced another mauling at the hands of Manchester City. More depressing still, there were further errors from Palace's alleged 'goalie'. City walloped four past the Eagles, who were completely outplayed. Can we have a recall for Mr Speroni please, Pards?
Luckily, I wasn't at the Etihad to have witnessed the slaughter. However, today promises another gruelling bout of bacteria warfare. If I ever hear the words Cif Floor Cleaner or Cillit Bang Turbo Foam again I think I will scream. Entering the last stages of kitchen scrubbing, how invigorating it was to switch on Planet Rock Radio and hear the familiar, dulcet tones of Sir Daniel Bowes. He plays some rather good chewns.
Saturday 16th January
My old senior school buddy David Gray has just posted this excellent photograph of us together backstage with Lemmy at Hackney Stadium in 1982, Mr Kilmister having his inserted his finger up my nostril. As he writes: "A precious moment in time, when we were all young and so full of life. The loss of Lem really is the end of an era."
I've just been reading this excellent piece on Bowie's final 18 months. It's quite remarkable. Just when you thought Bowie could be no more inspiring.
Meanwhile, Eddie has kindly agreed to go to the box office to buy tix for the Palace's FA Cup game against Stoke - what a good lad... it's what you have children for, surely? He got the best part of the deal. My weekend will consist of some Trans-Siberian Orchestra interview transcript and the donning of the Marigolds for the long overdue commencement of Operation Clean Up Ling Towers. Oh joy of joys. It's so great to be alive.
Oh shit – Palace are being linked with Emmanuel Adebayor, the troublesome striker discarded by Tottenham. A great player, obviously, but the kind of guy we want in the dressing room in SE25? I think not, though Supa Al reckons he would be able to keep him under control. This has got 'disaster' written all the way through it like a stick of rock.
Friday 15th January
Phew. I'm feeling much, much better than 24 hours ago. A day under the duvet and a very early night managed to stave off the lurgy. Xmas, accounts and having spent so much writing about all of those deaths must have built up inside me.
Having been fascinated by the interviews and reviews, I finally got hold of Swallow The Sun's newie, 'Songs From The North, Vols I, II and III'. Three discs of glorious doom, prog, metal and acoustic darkness (they are from Finland after all). I love that Juha Raivio would say: "Making a triple album in this godforsaken digital and modern day and age... Many will say it's madness. I say it is to bring worth, heart and respect back into the music and to the album format where it belongs. This should never turn into a shallow fast food industry where music is only downloaded one song at a time. These albums hold life, death, gloom, beauty and despair in their deepest levels and forms. The three chapters are different but connected, one long journey through these songs written up here in the North. Music is holy, albums are holy. See you on the other side friends." Can't wait to play it over the weekend...
Thursday 14th January
Uggggg. I've been up since 2am, stuffed full of cold and wheezing, trying to grab sleep when possible in my living room chair. Watched a few interesting things that were stored on the Sky+, including BBC4's documentary on David Gilmore, which was superb. The thought of leaving the duvet fills me with dread. But it looks like these furry critters want their brekkie! Okay, okay... it's on its way...
Wednesday 13th January
I'm f**king fuming. Palace lost last night to the worst team the Premier League has seen since Derby County. Below par in just about every position, we made Villa look like world beaters. And as for that 'goal' – the hapless Hennessey dropped the ball into his own net – I have no words. Well played, Villa. You deserved the points, Palace were dire.
Check out this great tribute to Bowie, from Def Leppard's Joe Elliott. From the heart!
Tuesday 12th January
Very few words required except to say that this video footage of David Bowie fans paying tribute with mass sing-along in the singer's birthplace of Brixton is bloody great.
What a strange 24 hours it's been. When I was a wee nipper I used to listen to Nicky Horne's rock snow on Capital Radio, Your Mother Wouldn't Like It, from beneath the duvet after being sent to bed. It was here that I heard first so many great bands for the first time… 'Squonk' by Genesis' and The Tubes' 'White Punks On Dope' were particularly memorable. Well, yesterday afternoon Nicky interviewed me for his TeamRock tribute show to Lemmy, and a day later I've just put down the phone on Nicky after he shared some classic David Bowie memories. The Lemmy show goes out at 5pm, if you wanna hear it. No offence, Nicky, but I hope we don't talk again quite so soon next time!
This photo is a Photoshop mock-up, apparently, but I still love it.
Monday 11th January
Oh, no no no no. Now we've lost Bowie as well?! I have very little to add to today's outpouring of grief and sadness, also the sense of gratitude for the incredible music. I didn't even know he was unwell, though a lady biographer on TV has just said that he'd had six heart attacks! I saw Dave just the once, at Milton Keynes Bowl on my 20th birthday, 2nd July, 1983. It was the 'Serious Moonlight' tour with Earl Slick and Carlos Alomar on guitars. Not a bad set-list (below), including my personal favourite 'Life On Mars?'. What a truly great artist. Am feeling *very* old today, so many of my heroes are now gone.
'The Jean Genie' - 'Star' - 'Heroes' - 'What In The World' - 'Golden Years' - 'Fashion' - 'Let's Dance' - 'Red Sails' - 'Breaking Glass' - 'Life On Mars?' - 'Sorrow' - 'Cat People' - 'China Girl' - 'Scary Monsters' - 'Rebel Rebel' - 'White Light White Heat' - 'Station To Station' - 'Cracked Actor' - 'Ashes To Ashes' - 'Space Oddity' - 'Young Americans' - 'TVC 15' - 'Fame' - 'Stay' - 'The Jean Genie' - 'Modern Love'
Sunday 10th January
After we ate some lovely Italian food and toasted Harj's birthday I headed across London to Big Red, a bar on the Holloway Rd, where a gathering in Lemmy's honour was taking place. His funeral was shown live in the big screen. There were great speeches so far by Paul, his son, Mikkey Dee, Rob Halford, Lars Ulrich and Robert Trujillo of Metallica and many, many more. Quite a few 'Lemmy's (now the official name for a JD and Coke) went down the down the neck, let me assure you. I'm really gonna miss the bloke and his music - though the latter will live on forever in recorded form, of course.
Saturday 9th January
Yesterday was a fairly shitty ol' day, transcribing interviews about Lemmy by his rock star associates, notwithstanding the warmth of the subjects. So revisiting this story on Skid Row that I wrote for Classic Rock #62 (Jan 2004) and now posted at the TeamRock website, brought much needed good cheer. I'll never forget Seb getting me in a headlock at the Hammersmith after-show and storming out of my interview for 'Subhuman Race', and doesn't every lead singer introduce himself to his new band-mates with the greeting: "Du-u-u-u-u-u-des! I've got a ten-inch dick!"?!
As I type I'm off to central London for a few jars at the 50th birthday part of my good friend Harj Kallah, but Crystal Palace have eased into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, thanks to Zaha's winner at Southampton. I'm very happy indeed.
Friday 8th January
Last night was spent veging out on the sofa, chilling after a long day's work with birthday boy Arnie and the biggest Chinese you ever saw, Reservoir Dogs on Netflix. Niiiiiiice.
A plaque in honour of Cozy Powell was unveiled yesterday in Cirencester. The widely travelled drummer died in a car crash in 1998, aged 50, and former band-mates Brian May, Tony Iommi, Suzi Quatro, Neil Murray, Bernie Marsden and Paul Raymond were all present at the ceremony. Intriguingly, former Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin, also present, later posted on his Facebook page: "[Following] the first conversation of any length that I have had with him in 15 years, it turns out [that Iommi and I] may well be working together soon!" Brian May's speech was insightful, witty, modest and sincere... as ever!
Dearie dearie me, this story about Lemmy appearing in a Finnish milk advert has made me start blubbing again. That lovely smile at the end.
Oh yes, those monthly updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages are ready to be viewed.
Thursday 7th January
It was time for my first gig of 2016, and I had a seriously good time at last night's live launch gig from Cats In Space, even toppled off the wagon (ahem...). The show was opened by Ian Danter, whose two albums were big favourites here at Ling Mansions, especially last year's 'Second Time Around'. You don't see too many drummers that also sing, fewer still that sing and beat their instrument whilst standing up. Doing so brings an element of risk, certainly, and Danter's voice did wobble a bit, notably during slower tunes such as 'Second Time Around', 'Stay In My Heart' and 'Stronger Than That', though the quality of the songs was consistently strong. 'Heart Of The Matter', a song by Don Henley, one of the elite to get away with singing drummer status, was an inspired choice of cover. There were extenuating circumstances – nobody wanted to mess around with CIS' backline, and playing in an unplugged stylée was a little restrictive. Danter's music should be heard with the amps on full power, something I hope to experience sooner rather than later.
A huge and vociferous crowd that included Thunder's Danny Bowes welcomed to headliners to the stage to perform the 'Too Many Gods' album in its entirety. Recreating its patchwork of ELO, Cheap Trick and 10cc influences onstage had seemed like a tough ask, but with experience accrued whilst working with the likes of Sweet, Moritz, T'Pau, Ian Gillan, Airrace and Arena the six-man line-up handled the task with ease. Along with the sensational lead vocals of Paul Manzi, their impressive multi-part harmonies, hummable choruses and flashy twin-guitars set yours truly drooling. There were so many highlights, it's hard to know where to begin. 'Only In Vegas' offered a delicious hint of the Doobie Bros, while 'Man In The Moon', complete with 'Mr Blue Sky'-style keyboard-enhanced backing vocal effects from Andy Stewart (grandson of the late Arthur Askey – seriously!) and 'Mr Heartache', penned by guitarist Greg Hart with 10cc's Mick Wilson, were little short of brilliant. For 80 glorious minutes the 1970s were reborn in audio form, it felt like the days of standing on the Holmesdale Road terrace and watching Taylor, Perrin, Harkouk, Cannon, Hilaire and Swindlehurst all over again, especially when the Cats returned to the stage for an encore of Slade and Sweet gems, namely 'How Does It Feel' and 'Burn On The Flame'. If you weren't there, you missed summat very special indeed. More please... and soon!
Wednesday 6th January
With the Classic Rock office team having returned to work on Monday, I'm back in my stride. Not that I really stopped working apart from Christmas Day. Today was spent conducting tribute interviews with friends and band-mates of the late, great Lemmy, I won't name them here. The conversations were nice and relaxed, the love and respect for our subject all too apparent, but I found the process a little emotionally draining.
Tuesday 5th January
So it appears the Guns N' Roses reunion is finally on. That's if you consider Axl, Slash, Duff McKagan and a line-up that's yet to be confirmed can legitimately constitute passing for GN'R. I wouldn't be surprised if the other players are drawn from the likes of Velvet Revolver and Slash's Snackpot... yawn. Really? I wouldn't go if it was taking place in my back garden.
Meanwhile, here's a bit of fun with Jordan Rudess that came up at the end of my recent Dream Theater interview. It seems that the keyboard wizard almost played on Pink Floyd's classic album 'The Wall' in his younger days - as a drummer!
Monday 4th January
It's hard to believe that 30 years have gone since we lost Phil Lynott. I only met him once, as a fan, cold and shivering outside the end of tour party for the 1981 album 'Renegade'. He arrived late and alone, asked why I wasn't inside (I had no ticket - I was collecting autographs) and ushered me inside, introducing me to Brian Robertson, Scott Gorham and all the rest of the assorted revellers. I've still got the invite he obtained for me, the reverse of which contains those treasured signatures. Along with the wonderful records that he made during that halcyon era, Phil's kindness will never be forgotten by yours truly.
The latest issue of Classic Rock offers and extensive celebration of Philo's life... how could it not? It includes my brand new interviews with Brian Robertson, Scott Gorham, early band-mate Nick Higgins (a member of the Black Eagles), Snowy White, Robin George, Mark Stanway, Jimmy Bain and Darren Wharton, whose tale of a midnight fridge misdemeanour ("Phil held out the cheese for inspection. 'Bite the fokken cheese', he demanded") is hilarious. I can only assume that the others I did - Dave Flett, John Coghlan and Chas Hodges - will be used in the online edition.
Sunday 3rd January
Off to Selhurst very shortly but I made it up 'n' out early in the drizzle for the second park run of 2016. To go at least every other day, unless there's a good reason, is among my new year's resolutions.
[Edit: I'm disappointed but no real complaints about the result… Palace 0, Chelski 3. Pards is right; had Palace scored first as early pressure suggested, it might have turned out very differently. Delaney's untimely slip for the opener was regrettable but these things happen, and the shot for their second was unstoppable. My one real gripe: Kevin Friend, the so-called ref, is a lady's front bottom. Foul after foul after foul after foul by the visitors went ignored, whereas Palace players went into the notebook for the most innocuous of challenges. Oh well... onwards and upwards. We're almost at that magic 40-point mark!]
Friday 1st January
I'm taking a break from work to support Wolves for a couple of hours in their game against the Old Enemy From The South Coast. If it's good enough for Percy and The Voice Of Rock... it'll do for me. There's no atmosphere at the SameSex Stadium, and Zamora... what a friggin' carthorse! Oh, and look hapless defender Connor Goldson has just put the band into his own net! It turns out to be the only goal of the game. What great entertainment. The wheels have well and truly come off for Shiteon, who after their great start are now winless in six games and out of the automatic promotion places. Hilarious!!!